Updated: Oct 27
Much has been written in recent years about the failure of Classical Liberalism, especially well documented in Deneen (2018), Bromley (2019), and Fukuyama (2022). The failure has come from an inordinate focus on the person, without enough attention to the community within each person is embedded (see Blog herein about said matter). Single Interest Theory in mainstream (Micro)economics, well, it supports the focus on a self-interest driven --- essential in order to be rational, it is claimed --- consumer maximizing utility (and, on the way to doing so, the profit and income that facilitates it, so it is part of the problem).
Now, just what that community is to represent varies greatly along the political spectrum from Left to Right, especially pertaining to the role of government in representing said community. A vision for what said community would look like in a kind of post-Liberalism framed on the Left is explored in Lakoff (2004/2014, 2016, both books also contrasting Left and Right). A vision for what said community would look like in a kind of post-Liberalism framed on the Right is explored in Rose (2022), in looking at the likely content of A World After Liberalism as envisioned by Philosophers of the Radical Right. Rose as theologian helps make sense of the role of religion in said frame. And, as a MetaEcon understands, Dual Interest Theory in Metaeconomics, well, it is part of the solution, as it sees the key role of ethics, which religion can help evolve, as represented in the shared other-interest.
Reading The Essence will take perhaps 5-10 minutes: It is a short Review, highlighting main points in Rose (2022), interlaced with MetaEcon commentary. This is a Blog, after all! The Details, well, Rose (2021/2022) is a deep and complex book, and it took me 25-30 pages to cover it … so, dig in with a good cup of coffee or a glass (bottle preferred) of wine, or my favorite, a couple of tasty beers, and, go for it. The Details use the MetaEcon framework more intensely, after Lynne, 2020: See Book).
Rose (2021/2022), with advanced training in theology, with roots in both Lutheran (Protestant) and Catholic theology, uses the frame of Christian theology and philosophy to make sense of the philosophy and claims of the Radical Right. It is done by exploring five main thinkers, each contributing parts: Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), The Prophet; Julius Evola (1898-1974), The Fantasist; Francis Parker Yockey (1917-1960), The Anti-Semite; Alan de Benoist (1943- ), The Pagan; and, Samuel Francis (1947-2005), The Nationalist.
Rose (2021/2022) makes clear that all five are anti-Christian, which itself is ironic when looking at the rhetoric of many on the US Political Right. As a MetaEcon (Lynne 2020), the five thinkers are giving content to that which has grown into the shared other-interest of the Radical Right, often with a misplaced claim by contemporary Right of Isle US Politicians to it being identical with the shared other-interest representing Christian philosophy, theology, and belief. So, what are the main propositions of the Radical Right? And, most importantly, is the content substantive in the sense of facts (scientific-method sourced) and ethics (that which reasoned people, and a reasoned God for believers, can go along with)?
Prophet Spengler sees Western culture under threat from all Other-cultures on the Spaceship. The claim is the main driver in building walls and otherwise restricting immigration. With Western culture claimed to be superior, Spengler claims it is completely appropriate to frame the matter as a legitimate expression of supremacy. And, while it is an empirical question that can be explored, it unfortunately often gets used by people who go to an unfounded (no empirical evidence) claim that it is the whites (as Western culture is often sourced to a primarily white Europe) that must be protected from people of color: White supremacy rules.
Spengler also claims that the notion of multiculturalism has no basis, that at best the various cultures must be maintained separately, as said frames had evolved at some earlier time, forever: Tradition, it is claimed, without empirical evidence, is superior to Progress. And, the Radical Right claims before Christianity started to influence it, and, especially before the Reformation when individual people started being able to be free to choose, it was inherently better. Spengler argues the principles of Classical Liberalism undergirding the Enlightenment fail to see the claimed essential role of binding and controlling free choice with local tradition, which is why Christianity fails.
Fantasist Evola is largely in the same frame as Spengler, adding the need for authoritarianism to ensure tradition is not only not lost, but is enforced. To a Metaecon, Evola is into espousing authoritarian heteronomy --- outside control driven largely by the strict (father) authoritarian who is feeding mainly an ego-based self-interest --- keeping tight control over an adaptive, child-like set of individual people, using the content of a shared other-interest laden with Tradition. So much for nurturing parents encouraging a free child to grow and find own-self. Lakoff (2006, 2019) clarifies said two frames characterize Right and Left in general.
In contrast, Christianity (and Classical Liberalism whether in Christian form or otherwise) is about homonomy. It is about community influence on the person, which each person freely ponders and considers. It is about choosing to temper the own self-interest with the homonomy related, empathy-based other (shared with the other, yet internalized) -interest evolved through empathy-with the other. It is also about an evolving ethic, one that evolves jointly along with the evolution of scientific-method driven facts. The Evola fantasy, in contrast, is an unchanging tradition which also embeds eternal inequality, enforced by an authoritarianism. We can now understand more clearly the content of the authoritarianism that is growing on the US Radical Right, and, in other heretofore Western democracies (Italy just elected a Right-Wing leader, and, even Sweden has seen a tip to the Right, and Orban in Hungary is already in said frame).
Anti-Semite Yockey sees Jewish Culture working to encompass and override Western Culture. The frame has led to the notion of “cultural Marxism,” as in the social power phenomenon highlighted in Marx, with Jewish Culture winning. some on the Radical Right turn the frame into anti-Jewish people, as in a kind of racism, which Yockey denies is a descriptor of him or the anti-Jewish Culture frame. In a nutshell, it seems the main concern by Yockey is that the Jewish Culture is too materialistic. So, WWII was a cultural war, fought against Jewish Culture (albeit Yockey did not support how the Nazi Party dealt with it), but also against both classical liberalism and communism. Even more intriguing, the idea of “cultural Marxism” has even been broadened out, without any empirical substance, as a diatribe against any kind change or progress in culture, like evolved in the 1960s (disparagingly used to characterize anything “the libs” propose, whether good, bad, or indifferent).
So, Yockey was not only anti-Semite, but also anti-Christian, as Christianity gave too much freedom to choose to the person, supporting liberalism in unchaining the person from the Church and other key cultural institutions. And, communism was about freeing labor up from control by capitalists. Yockey claims such freedom in all three “cultures” leads to homogenization writ large. It leads to a common culture (to a MetaEcon, to a widely shared other-interest), across the entirety of the Spaceship. It eliminates (and, thus threatens) the traditions in the “local tribe.” Yockey wants to preserve old-Tradition: Progress described by evolving Traditions is to be avoided. A MetaEcon would not outrightly disagree about the importance of the tribal (shared) other-interest, as The Me needs a We to Be. Yockey seems to not understand, however, that Without a Me there is no We. The Me needs substantive freedom to be creative, freedom to choose, freedom to evolve the Best Culture. To a MetaEcon, it is about finding the best balance in a joint I & We. So, it turns into an empirical question which cannot be answered by a philosopher (nor an ideologue) --- and especially not a Fascist Theorist (as in Yockey) --- without empirical test of the proposed balance.
Yockey, too, like Spengler and Evola, claimed the supremacy of Western culture, and, WWII was not won because the winners, who were part of Western culture, did not take authoritarian (Western culture as fascism) control of the entire Spaceship. And, how were said winners to do so? So, authoritarianism with a fascist twist was the only way. And, it was not so much that the authoritarian fascism which was beat back with WWII was not the best way to ensure best outcomes, it had just been implemented wrong and with incompetence by the fascists of the time. Intriguingly, we Arizonians are hearing a variant on said story from a Radical Right US Senate Candidate here in late-2020, with it claimed that US military commanders are incompetent, having never won any of the (now we understand as presumed culture) wars.
Pagan de Benoist wants to go back to some early time in the evolution of humans, back when people lived embedded in the ecosystem of the Spaceship, and respected same at a kind of spiritual level. In that sense, de Benoist might connect with contemporary ecologists, and also be concerned about sustaining Spaceship Earth ecosystems, including such things as dealing with the excess loading of greenhouse (carbon dioxide, especially) gases that are driving severe weather events as well destroying ecosystems like coral reefs. Intriguingly, the US Radical Right has so far ignored that part of de Benoist, who is anti-Christian for the fact it destroys the relationship of the person and the ecosystem (community) of the Spaceship, while also destroying social relations in the community of people. To a MetaEcon, de Benoist wants to rebalance the I & We, the person & community (including all living creatures on the Spaceship) toward the “We”, toward the shared other-interest in sustaining the community.
To de Benoist, Paganism is Humanism, not unlike what a MetaEcon frames as the need to see the dual interest of the Human, in the search for a Humane Market & Humane Government. Also, then, to de Benoist there is no God, but rather Humans, in consort with other Spaceship creatures including the wider community of all humans, with said community the source of the gods.
So, de Benoist is especially anti-Christian as it puts the free to choose person into a position of it only being necessary to have a relationship with a divinity “out-there” somewhere. Said Christian is in dominion over nature and, in effect, being free to choose without regard for anyone or anything other than the monotheistic God. A MetaEcon would frame the empirical question more as one of finding a way to temper the arrogance of self-love, the arrogance of self-interest only, through being in empathy with Spaceship creatures, human and otherwise, and with a monotheistic God if one so chooses to believe in same. The Christian philosophical and theological support for being in empathy-with the other works for a MetaEcon, albeit a belief in God is not essential to it.
Nationalist Francis will look the most familiar to people watching the US Radical Right in recent years. Francis was one of the first to point at “the elites” on both the Left and Right. It was about moving away from elite supported globalization, including moving away from free trade and from spreading market neoliberalism across the Spaceship. It was about recognizing how elites had left labor behind, and elite politicians were not listening to said concerns. It was also about returning to some perhaps fantastical, imagined, and mystical time when the core of thinking put America first. It was about traditional, unchanging American culture, if there ever was such a thing. Francis also saw politics as about taking power, seeing politics as a power struggle among the elites.
Nationalist Francis foresaw the evolution of the Middle American Radicals (MARs), which Rose (2021/2022, pp. 124-125) characterizes as people who “…defended entitlements and union membership, and were deeply skeptical of large corporations and free trade. On the other hand, they opposed welfare and school busing, and held conservative views on social issues, especially those involving race. … (even though) many rely on government help in the form of benefits or loans… (and form) the remaining core of a fractured American nation. … MARs feel they are members of an exploited class—excluded from real political representation, harmed by conventional tax and trade policies, victimized by crime and social deviance, and denigrated by popular culture and elite institutions. Their sense of grievance points both upward and downward. They believe they are neglected, even preyed upon, by a leadership class who simultaneously favor the rich and the poor over the interests of the middle class.”
Rose (2021/2022) brings it all together with a play on the notion of The Jewish Question, using the frame of The Christian Question. The Christian Question arises in the Radical Right claiming, which Christianity disavows, that the strong will always rule the weak in an inexorable hierarchy; no obligations exist to strangers; and, well, social status in the hierarchy has high value, as in the essential meritocracy. As Rose (2021/2022) says, “Christianity made us tender and empathetic, and shifted the burden of proof against the aristocratic sentiment that tolerates cruelties and inequities. In doing so, the Radical Right claim it burdens us with bad consciences (am recalling the Critical Race Theory discussion which is not to be had in schools because it makes young people feel badly), wounding our self-love and pride… (and that) Christian values, either openly or in secular disguise, uproot human beings from tight social bonds which the Radical Right wishes to impose on everyone…” As a MetaEcon makes clear, being empathetic-with the other is actually essential to economic efficiency, minimizing political (economic) chaos, and, yes, perhaps even feeling a bit badly is actually essential to achieving happiness: The burden is on the Radical Right to prove otherwise (including why Macho Putin is a leader to be admired, which has been made clear by many on the US Political Right).
Rose (2021/2022, p. 140) sums it all up as follows:
“… the radical right critiques Christianity for nurturing individual freedom, not suppressing it; for undermining human inequalities, not upholding them; for being rationalistic, not irrational; for its openness, not its exclusivity; for being apolitical, not political; and for living up to its ideals, not betraying them. What is shocking about these formulations is that they invert the conventional terms of intellectual discussion... (accusing) Christianity of being the cause of modern values it is often blamed for impeding or rejecting… (with the Radical Right rejecting the Christian frame that sees) human beings as individuals, equal in dignity and worth, who are to recognize all men as neighbors… (sees) history culminating in a universal community, uniting people from every nation and land.”
Rose (2021/2022, pp. 146, 147) speculates about what a post-Christian system would hold: It will have a number of features including speaking “… a distinct ideological language … will not speak reverently of free markets, individualism, or constitutionalism… will claim to have recovered cultural traditions and national symbols, boasting to have restored a patrimony to those it had been wrongly denied … (and claim that its) appeals to diversity, difference, and victimhood would … blunt charges that it espoused supremacist ideas.” Rose (2021/2022, pp. 147) cautions, however, that a post-Christian frame might also be cloaked in Christianity, such as “…claiming a religious mantle for its defense of ethnic or cultural identity … that an individual is Christian in virtue of being born into a particular ethnicity or nation; the idea that a people is innately Christian in virtue of its history or culture … that Christianity is an inheritance a people possesses as its own, rather than a gift they share with others… that a Christian community is closed to those outside its ethno-cultural boundaries … (said community) giving identity.”
To Rose (2021/2022, p. 148): “..(Christian theology) must be prepared to confront a post-Christian right with the same vigor that it has challenged the secular left.” To a MetaEcon, such a frame of reference points to examining the efficacy of Christian framing in forming the best shared other-interest. So, go do the empirical testing --- both in day-to-day attention to what post-Christian Radical Right framing actually produces, in contrast to what Chrisitan and other kinds of framing produces, and, take it into the research academy for formal testing --- and, find out. Find out if a sufficient reason for the claims actually exists, build on a base of facts & ethics. Bottmline: It is ill-advised to use Radical Right philosophy and ideology to change Classical Liberalism --- move to a post-liberalism representing Radical Right claims --- unless both the facts (science-sourced) & ethics support the move.
And, for empirical test, watch the developments in Italy, Sweden, and Hungary, and watch if the CPAC in the US succeeds in introducing Radical Right frames into the US system. All are installing various combinations of Radical Right propositions. Time will tell if same actually work, i.e., lead to economic efficiency, minimal political economic chaos (peace), and, real increases in happiness. Doubtful, but, it is an empirical question.
It seems post-Liberalism is on the horizon. And, just what is the shared other-interest in the philosophy of Classical Liberalism that the post-Liberal thinkers are protesting against? Deneen (2018/2019, the following from Lynne 2022) clarifies that the problem, as a post-Liberal thinker like Deneen (and the Radical Right as covered in Rose, 2022, would agree) is that:
--- classical liberalism --- leading to both progressive (mainly cultural) liberalism and conservative (mainly market, neo-) liberalism --- conceives each person “… as rights-bearing individuals who could fashion and pursue for themselves their own version of the good life. Opportunities for liberty were best afforded by a limited government devoted to ‘securing rights,’ along with a free-market economic system that gave space for individual initiative and ambition (Deneen 2019, p. 1).” Deneen then delivers the blow, in that while classical liberalism was launched “… to foster greater equity, defend a pluralist tapestry of different cultures and beliefs, protect human dignity, and, of course, expand liberty, in practice generates titanic inequality, enforces uniformity and homogeneity, fosters material and spiritual degradation, and undermines freedom. Its success can be measured by its achievement of the opposite of what we have believed it would achieve… (resulting in) our political, social, economic, and moral crisis (p. 4).” Bromley (2019, see Lynne 2021) also sees the crisis of capitalism driven by possessive individualism --- another way to characterize an unbounded self-interest --- driven by the failure in virtue ethics, failure in the institutions: Ethics is key. Deneen claims liberalism made the mistake of moving away from “the ancient reliance upon virtue… loosening of social bonds in nearly every aspect of life—familial, neighborly, communal, religious, even national — (and) reflects the advancing logic of liberalism … the source of its deepest instability (Deneen 2019, pp. 29-30).”
The shared other-interest as seen by a post-Liberal, and most on the Radical Right are in said frame of mind, must be narrowed to that which was traditionally believed, sometimes with Christian religion overtones, as in the case of Catholic conservative Deneen (2018/2019). The frame is also found in law, in effect, under the banner of Originalism.
Ironically, as Rose (2021/2022) claims (and, it is often revealed in the hypocrisy of pseudo-Christians on the Right) many in the post-Liberal frame of mind on the Radical Right are actually anti-Christian (as well as anti-Jewish, and anti-Judeo-Christian framing), seeing Christian philosophy as the problem, not the solution. Rose (2021/2022), in some respects like Deneen (2018/2019), does still see a role for Christian framing, but, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We now turn to the Rose (2022) characterization of the five main thinkers, philosophers who are in the background of Radical Right framing. And, if you wish to go deeper, looking at not only another analysis of Spengler, Evola, and de Benoist, but 13 other Radical Right thinkers and philosophers, see Sedgwick (2019).
The Prophet: Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Spengler was a German Historian and philosopher of history, who profoundly believed he could foresee the future. As Rose (2022, p. 19) characterizes that vision:
Spengler had made his name as a prophet of cultural decline, and his final prediction was his most provocative. He predicted a crisis, the “most severe” in human history, that would test the strength of the entire Western world. At present “no one sees, or dares to see it,” but the willingness of Europeans and Americans to face it together, without the false comfort of illusions or sentimentality, would determine the shape of history. What did Spengler see? Near the turn of the millennium, the West would confront the “colored world-revolution,” the rise of “colored” nations into positions of increasing parity with the “white world.” The revolution will not arrive by force of arms, he cautioned. It will arrive as Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern peoples, equipped with Western science and technology, realize that the era of global white supremacy is over.
Sounds familiar, Right? The Great Replacement Theory comes to mind. Anti-immigration --- especially against people of color, especially with different cultural traditions and non-Christian religion --- comes to mind. Identity politics comes to mind. All such framing leads to all manner of political (economic) chaos.
Yet, Spengler did get it partially correct, seeing Humans as gaining the main meaning only in the sense of the culture within which same are embedded, the shared other-interest to a MetaEcon. Said culture is the set of institutions to an InstiEcon (Institutional Economist).
As Rose (2022, p. 24) says it, to Spengler:
The human world is the world of culture. Its universe—our “microcosm,” as he suggestively put it—is not defined by the laws of biology and chemistry. It is defined by language, art, music, narrative, ritual, and religion. Like other conservative thinkers of his time, Spengler sought to defend local customs and folk traditions as sources of perennial wisdom.
So, the problem is, immigration of the “colored-world” into the “white-world” --- and the resulting integration --- would produce all manner of disruption and chaos, with the local customs and folk traditions of the “white-world” in some sense superior, it seems. It seems Spengler saw only Western, largely white-culture as the one best culture, and everything else, every other culture on the Spaceship characterized as not-Western, and to be avoided.
Sounds familiar, Right? And, there is no hope that people of different cultures could somehow find common ground, as Spengler in effect believed, as Rose (2022, pp. 26-27) says:
Cultures are self-contained metaphysical worlds, and the notion of a “multicultural” society is a chimera—all societies are symbolically closed. …in a deep sense, cultures are inaccessible and incomprehensible to outsiders who do not inhabit their microcosms of meaning and reference… (so on the matter of any hope for finding common ground) the great philosophers of history were therefore all wrong, and so were the Christian theologians, whose legacy he would later criticize bitterly.
To a MetaEcon, Spengler is claiming (without empirical evidence) that it is patently impossible for cultures to find any common ground within a commonly shared other-interest. It is impossible even when each culture retains much of its own, tradition bound shared other-interest, while building an overlapping (new) shared other-interest that everyone can go along with. The shared other-interest within each culture is irreconcilable with the other, so keep other-cultures away (no immigration from different cultures allowed: Build-walls).
And, intriguingly, it was not just about “white men” but was about “Faustian men (women not mentioned)” , as Rose (2022, pp. 29-30) says it
… Faustian men are always preternaturally more: more creative, more daring, more individualistic, more heroic, more ambitious, more restless, more demanding, more lethal, more self-denying. Spengler’s conceit was that Western culture is the product of this surpassing ambition to challenge human finitude. It is propelled by an ethic that encourages the loftiest human personalities. Like other cultures, the West has its own morality; but unlike others, Spengler wrote, this morality requires the most severe self-sacrifice in pursuit of the most distant goals. This ethic has no claim to universal validity—it is not written in the hearts or natures of all human beings—yet its requirements have inspired all the giants and geniuses of the West. “The entire Faustian ethic is an ‘excelsior’—the fulfillment of an ‘I,’” Spengler argued. “Here Luther is completely at one with Nietzsche, Popes with Darwinians, Socialists with Jesuits.”
So, the “I” of Luther, the Darwinians (focused only on one part of Darwin, the survival of the fittest organism separated from the ecosystem), and the Jesuits … well, said “I” was freed from the controls represented in a shared other-interest (in the ecosystem and in the human community) writ large, in the Faustian bargain. Western culture was the culture of the “I” doing pretty much as a person pleased, including using the Spaceship resources in any manner that served the “I.” Sound familiar, as in anti-environmental regulation?
And, Spengler as atheist, still saw the key role of Christianity in the West, as Rose (2022, p. 34) says it:
“It was not Christianity that transformed Faustian man,” Spengler wrote in a critical passage, “but Faustian man who transformed Christianity.” Faustian man had the strength to make Christianity his own, turning a formerly world-rejecting faith into a world-transforming doctrine. In the minds and hands of Europeans, Christianity subdued the unearthly utopianism of its earliest believers, becoming a religion that affirmed the expansion of human freedom, power, and knowledge.
To a MetaEcon, it was the freeing of the person to pursue self-interest through the expansion of human freedom, power, and knowledge that was contributed especially by the reframing by Martin Luther in the 1517 start of the Reformation, that had made a difference. The ensuing Enlightened period bore good fruit because of it.
Yet, Spengler believed said person was not to take much of the Christian notion of empathy-with the other, as in the shared other-interest (empathy-based ethics) suggested by Christianity. As Rose (2022, pp. 34-35) characterizes it:
Spengler portrayed early Christianity as a primitive socialism inspired by a Semitic longing for a better world. … regarded liberal political ideals as the secular offspring of a purer and more ancient form of Christian faith that had partly reemerged in modernity. … what remained of Christian piety after it had lost faith in its doctrinal claims, and instead offered moral support to the cause of human equality. Liberalism “detests every kind of greatness, everything that towers, rules, is superior,” Spengler complained.
Sounds familiar, Right? Only ego-based self-interest could lead to greatness (and seeking one’s own salvation on said path, in the Faustian bargain), as in the presumed moral market which can do no wrong. Any empathy-with others, involving community and the government representing same, especially the not-Western people in said cultures, well, it would cause the decline of the West. Spengler even claimed that any empathy-with others was actually a misrepresentation of what Jesus Christ taught, and “to ascribe social purposes to Jesus is a blasphemy (quote provided in Rose, 2022, p. 35).” Perhaps. A MetaEcon would suggest it is an empirical question, and that joining in empathy-with others is likely essential to accomplishing any kind of greatness.
Rose (2022, p. 38) brings it all to close with the claim that “Spengler’s understanding of human identity was profoundly illiberal…” meaning that Western culture --- that specific kind of shared other-interest --- was clearly in the background of every person choosing. It was not to be allowed, that a person might even consider moving away from said culture (e.g., perhaps introducing some idea from a not-West culture), and, thus, it is an illiberal frame. And, said frame is actually the main, disturbing part of Spengler. As Rose (2022, p. 38) says it,
To learn that one is the inheritor of a great patrimony is ennobling. To learn that it is received through birth is consoling. But to be told that it destines one to permanent alienation from others—that is to tempt catastrophe.
Catastrophe, indeed. It is a catastrophe to ignore that which the other can go along with, the permanent alienation from all other cultures. To avoid said catastrophe, it is likely essential to bring empathy-with the other to bear in influencing how an Economy & Community that works for everyone is formed on the Spaceship on which all travel together around the Sun.
The Fantasist: Julius Evola (1898-1974)
Evola was an Italian philosopher. Rose (2022) claims Evola drew much from Spengler, albeit Spengler claimed he was not a fascist, while Evola seemed to support --- he was accused of ---fascist framing. Evola only admitted to being supportive of anti-Liberal movements, i.e., not much in favor of the principles of and outcomes from Classical Liberalism, rather favoring post-Liberal hierarchical and aristocratic values and structures.
As Rose (2022, p. 41) characterizes it, Evola was (and it is said Steve Bannon, advisor to Donald Trump, is a fan):
Against a secular world of growing freedom and equality, he conjured a fantastic world of his own imagination—a sacred world of unchanging order and inequality, in which all authority was absolute and every activity was holy. Evola aspired to be the most right-wing thinker possible in the modern world.
Evola had first believed the Ego was all that needed to be fed within a person, but came to realize it was a flawed idea. Evola then adopted the notion of Tradition (a MetaEcon might say, the empathy-based and shared other-interest at some earlier, historical time --- some presumed best time in the past, as though such a thing ever existed) as the essence of the person.
As Rose (2022, pp. 46-47) describes it
Evola traced the disorders of modernity to its loss of contact with Tradition, which he interpreted in political terms. Astonishingly, he did not date the break to the Enlightenment, the Reformation, or the end of antiquity. No, the world has been slouching into spiritual poverty since the eighth century BC, when the world of Tradition began to disappear, just as historical consciousness began to dawn. …Evola claimed that this idea informed Norse poetry, Hindu scripture, Roman religion, Celtic legend, and Mesoamerican myth—all attest to a social order where human beings find their place and purpose living under sacred hierarchy. Evola contrasted his view with that of Spengler… (whose) flaw was that he “lacked any understanding of metaphysics and transcendence,” which led him to conclude that cultures were irreducibly different … (and, on pp. 50-51): Evola was horrified by the “anti-traditional” character of liberalism, especially its desire to free individuals from relationships of command and obedience. Everything he revered—social castes, natural inequalities, and sacred privileges—was targeted by liberalism for reform or abolition.
Evola wanted readers to believe there was an immutable, timeless common core to all cultures, going back to primordial time, and it was said core which is Tradition. Fascinating, as such a frame presumes the facts (hopefully scientific-method driven) & ethics (that which others can go along with) in some primordial time would be controlling (as in illiberal control) forever. It sounds a great deal like the contemporary Originalism in Radical Right law, such as used to recently overturn Roe v Wade: So much for Classical Liberalism.
Intriguingly, Evola saw too much freedom of the person as a feature of both ends of the political (economic) spectrum (Rose 2022, p. 55):
For Evola, everything depended on recognizing the fundamental agreement between liberalism, socialism, and communism: each celebrated human liberation from traditional constraints, disagreeing only about the best means of achieving it. … argued that Americanism and communism were “two tongs of the same pincers,” since they pointed to the same standardizing and leveling outcomes.
Liberation of a person was not to be tolerated, as it violated some magical, fantastical Tradition (which could not really be defined and described: Just believe in it, and stop all progress) that must rein forever. It would be known (Rose 2022, p. 56) by the
“differentiated men,” who felt they did not inwardly belong in liberal societies… men of superior integrity, honor, courage, and virility—men who were “ready for action” and capable of resisting every compromise and collaboration with liberalism… (and on p. 62, Evola in effect presumes such men did exist, as in) once upon a time there was a perfect state, until a moral catastrophe destroyed it.
Now, that is really fantastical: Just where are said people to be found? And, just what was the nature of said perfect state? History confirms only a few times when such people were around, and there has never been nor will there ever be a perfect state or a perfect authoritarian/illiberal (and, Evola wants said leader to also be spiritual, resting in some immutable Tradition) leader.
Rose (2022, p. 62) closes out the discussion of Evola with:
Evola dreamed of a world of absolutely fixed and certain meanings, where human identities, in all their forms, bore the indelible chrism of sacred destiny. He fantasized about a world saturated with meanings so thick, so absolute, and so unchallengeable that they could create reflections of eternity in time.
It would seem one is best advised to move away from such fantasy, and instead work to tweak Classical Liberalism principles to reach reality. But, be careful: As indicated, Steve Bannon and others on the American Radical Right are fans, and, perhaps too many think such a Spaceship is not only the best but attainable. Just steal elections and keep said system for eternity. Not.
The Anti-Semite: Francis Parker Yockey (1917-1960)
Yockey was America’s preeminent fascist theorist (Rose 2022, pp. 66-67), writing a
revisionist history of the twentieth century, his phantom war against what is now called “cultural Marxism,” and his anticipation of a resurgent Russia helping to correct a decadent West— His conversion to far-right politics, and his break with Marxism, occurred while reading Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West during a school holiday.
Yockey also had support from Evola, as well as admiring the work of Spengler. The Yockey support of fascism comes from the notion (Rose 2022, pp. 69-70), speaking to World War II and the Holocaust:
Fundamentally, the war was not a military conflict at all, but an unresolved and continuing cultural struggle. At its heart was an antagonism between two possible futures for Western civilization. On one side were the allied ideologies of liberalism and communism. Though seemingly opposed, Yockey maintained, they shared many philosophical assumptions, especially about natural human equality, and differed only in the political implications they drew from them. Yockey predicted that their growing convergence, over the course of the coming Cold War, would reveal their ideological kinship. On the other side was the heroic, if flawed, attempt to build a society that could escape the slavery of communism and the anomie of liberalism. What was called fascism was merely a “provisional” response to a genuine social crisis…
Yockey claimed the Allies, who fought WWII against Fascism, did not win anything of substance (a claim being made here in 2022 by a Radical Right Arizona US Senate Candidate, who also claims incompetence of US Military Commanders, as in having never won a war: It seems said candidate also sees it as a loss for Western culture). And, while Yockey did not favor the Fascism at play in Europe in the 1930s-1940s, some form of same was to be preferred over what emerged after the war which the Allies supposedly “lost” which resulted in the two competing systems of communism and (classical) liberalism. Yockey claimed some version of an authoritarian fascism was essential in order to solve both the economic & social crisis inherent in both the “slavery of communism and the anomie (i.e., lacking in social and ethical standards) of liberalism (Rose 2022, p. 69).” Yockey believed Western culture was not served by either.
A MetaEcon would give analytical substance to framing the problem side of the matter. A communism which in effect enslaves each person and/or a liberalism with too much freedom to choose by each person who is also, then, opposed to ethical reflection about the shared other-interest, drives both economic & social (community)crisis. A MetaEcon clarifies said crisis will arise in the joint domains of market & government, with indicators being extreme inequality in income, wealth, and power as well as culture wars, both exacerbating political chaos. Just look around the Spaceship: Evidence abounds. And, because a MetaEcon has a placeholder in Dual Interest Theory for the shared other-interest, said interest as represented in Western culture can be inserted into the framework to guide empirical analysis into the question of finding sufficient reason (see Bromley 2006, and reviews in Lynne 2007, 2009) to favor Western culture over all others.
The political (economic) chaos in the formerly communist Russia --- now “fixed” with Authoritarianism & Religionism & Oligarchism --- and the (classical) liberalism without ethics system edging the US toward the same dysfunctional triad are obvious cases in point. A MetaEcon would also posit, however, that any form of authoritarianism --- the Russian or emerging US versions, or others, like in Hungary --- just simply cannot work to fix the problem. Yockey would obviously disagree, as made clear here (Rose 2022, pp. 70-71):
Politically, the ideal state is authoritarian, basing its legitimacy on submission to authority, rather than popular consent. “The source of government is the inequality of men,” Yockey wrote. Economically, this regime is socialist, subordinating the “rule of money” and all economic production to the state. Juridically, it places the rule of law under sovereign power, rather than constitutional procedures or a party system.
So, a production system along with the elimination of democracy and a greatly hobbled judicial system, all run by authoritarians? Complete control of elections by authoritarians, who steal same in order to stay in power, denying the legitimacy of voting in a democracy? It seems the US Radical Right agrees, working to suppress voting rights, installing Radical Right originalists on the Supreme Court. And, on the economic front, while claiming socialism (any offsets to authoritarian power, even against labor unions) to counter scroogism is a bad, substituting what can be even worse as represented in an authoritarian oligarchy as cronies in cahoots with the authoritarian politicians (and, several religionists integrated within).
The Yockey vision sounds very much like the Orban Authoritarianism system currently operating in Hungary, which has been mixed with Religionism, and apparently given support by Oligarchism (wealthy people shoring up the Authoritarian system and in effect running the economy). The US Radical Right obviously admires said system, as indicated in even holding a recent CPAC (US based Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting in Hungary.
Autocrat Orban, was also recently a featured speaker at a US CPAC meeting, also seems to be quite proud of the fact that Hungarian Universities are now run by carefully selected Authoritarians (US Radical Right politicians in Florida working to suppress academics at the University of Florida comes to mind: See https://www.chronicle.com/article/public-university-curricula-are-government-speech-florida-says ), the press is suppressed, oligarchs run the factories and businesses, elections are quietly stolen, and the Court has been loaded with Authoritarians with a Religionist twist: Sound familiar, as to directions being pushed by some contemporary Radical Right US Politicians? Said push is highly unlikely to be supported with sufficient reason (fact & ethic based) to justify the outcome from authoritarians in control.
Yet, Yockey did have some ideas worth pondering, especially the notion of the “cultural vitalism” attributed to Western culture. Yockey saw Western culture as superior to all other cultures on the Spaceship, albeit according to Rose (2022), Yockey provides little in the way of actual empirical evidence. Also, because of the superiority of Western culture, it justified a kind of imperialism over every other culture on the Spaceship. It was completely appropriate, and actually essential, that Western culture suppress and otherwise dominate all other cultures. As Rose (2022, p. 74) characterizes the Yockey contention, “… the West must regard itself as the preeminent culture, as the ‘master’ civilization.” It was about Western supremacy, and, to the extent it meant white supremacy (albeit Yockey claimed to not be racist in the genetic sense, but was of said mindset in the cultural sense), well, so be it.
Also, while Yockey apparently does not make the direct connection, said vitalism which was legitimately to be used to be the master culture was certainly influenced by Christianity, especially after the start of the Reformation in 1517, nudging both Market & Government onto the path of the Enlightenment. Intriguingly, while Yockey argued that politics drove Christianity, it seems it was likely more about a joint and nonseparable evolution of Christianity (which emphasized and facilitated the person, the “I”) & Community (the “We”), what came to be Classical Liberalism & Government (Minimalist), and, specifically intriguing to a MetaEcon, the joint Market & Government. And, again to a MetaEcon, what is especially intriguing is the likely role that empathy-with framing, as influenced by Christianity (as well as other religions and, philosophies like Buddhism), has played through the centuries, especially since the Christian Reformation in the 1500s.
Yockey was anti-Christian, claiming instead to be a pagan and polytheist, because of the fact Christianity held up and otherwise emphasized the person, and, expected that person being in empathy-with (and perhaps even sympathetic-with and compassionate-with) the other.
And, while faith was important to Yockey, it had to be faith in the supremacy of Western culture. So, tempering the self-interest represented in a person with Western culture by mindful empathy-with people in other cultures, as Christianity suggests, well, that was dangerous and to be avoided. Yockey believed that authoritarian control (not favored in Christianity, although Fascist "Christians" do so favor it: See Hedges 2007) was essential over personal free choice, else Western culture would crash. To a MetaEcon, Yockey is in effect saying that the shared other-interest by each person embedded in and reflecting the Western culture would just naturally deteriorate over time (lack of self-control to temper the ego-based self-interest, we might speculate) without control by authoritarians to keep it intact.
Yockey was especially concerned about the threat of Jewish culture, that somehow Western culture would be subsumed by Jewish culture. Seeing Jewish culture as a threat to Western culture resulted in Yockey being branded as anti-Semitic. And, it was not a genetics related, racist kind of frame, at least not to Yockey --- it was not racism against people with genetics of a Jewish race --- but it was the Jewish culture which Yockey railed against. And, Yockey was convinced (again, conjecture, without empirical evidence) that such framing was tempered for the worse after WWII. As Rose (2022, p. 75) says it, Yockey claimed that:
In place of a culture of heroism (prior to WWII), the elite (after WWII) have imposed a culture of critique, whose goal is not only to redistribute cultural power more equally; it is to protect an alien people, whose ideas have secretly distorted their host culture.
The Jewish culture and every other non-Western culture, well, said cultures were in effect being encouraged by the alien people (within the US as especially represented in African Americans, Jewish people, and supporters, and, more recent immigration by people of a wide range of colors, and, especially immigration of people with different religious and cultural frames) to undermine Western culture. Said aliens did not understand (or did not care) that distributing cultural power, recognizing legitimacy of other cultures, would work to undermine Western culture. And, yet, it was a good thing to bring said people into the fold, “… that it had been a strength of Western culture, since the late Roman era, to have welcomed ‘strong minorities’ into its common life.” It is just that said people must buy-in to Western culture, embracing the vitalism and supremacy of it, and not work to bring it down.
The Yockey diatribe against all other cultures, especially Jewish culture, eventually led to discourse labeled generally as “cultural Marxism.” The claim is that certain people are using, Rose (2022, p. 79) citing some sources, “a theory of criticizing everyone and everything everywhere,” an “infinite and unending criticism of the status quo,” all focused on dismantling Western culture. Little evidence exists that such an effort is underway, but, the Radical Right often claims it (again, with little to no empirical evidence it is actually ongoing, at least in any organized manner). The result is often to attack the Academy (the anti-Woke legislation recently passed by the Florida legislature, focused on controlling what university faculty can teach, comes mind), which is the presumed bastion of said diabolical effort: The attack of Critical Race Theory, which grew out of deep analysis framed in Critical Theory by law researchers, is one example.
It has even led some on the Radical Right (including many pundits and politicians on the US Right) to join in sympathy with the Russian Autocracy, as though same are somehow supportive of original European tenets underlying Western culture. Said claims arise with the notion (Rose 2022, p. 82) “… that ‘true Russia’ is primitive, mystical, and communal. Its cultural soul is therefore innately opposed to individualism, rationalism, and materialism…
Where the West had grown tired, divided, effeminate, and self-critical, Russia had remained vigorous, tribal, masculine, and self-protective” and, thus, to be applauded. The notion that the US Military has become effeminate (because women are now ever more part of the US Military, as well as gay and transgender people recognized as legitimate contributors to the military mission) and is no longer macho has been claimed, recently, by US Radical Right politicians.
Overall, it is disturbing, to be applauding Authoritarianism, whether of Russian or any other flavor. It is also especially disturbing to see that empathy-with others on the race and gender spectrum (with empathy being encouraged as a major tenet of Christian philosophy, which undergirds a great deal of Western culture, and, politics, as in the foundation of the US Constitution) is somehow deemed to be destroying Western culture. It seems, instead, empirical reality here, that too much ego-against the other, ego used to dominate the other, is far more destructive, looking back at human history.
It seems a more reasonable frame is to point out that the Academy asks hard questions about major tenets of Western culture and seeks to find sufficient reason --- facts (scientific-method) & ethics based --- to stay with same. And, if sufficient reason is not found, well, then, the academy works to integrate pieces and parts of other cultures that make the now tweaked Western culture work better for people. It seems the Academy is essentially about making Western culture, and all cultures, better on the continually evolving path toward the best, with science & ethics undergirding the quest.
The Pagan: Alain de Benoist (1943- )
Alain de Benoist is a French Journalist and political philosopher. Benoist has worked to revive the Radical Right in France, including claims for racial segregation, and framing favoring xenophobia (Rose 2022, p. 87). Benoist noticed how the French Left had in effect come to identify with, and build identity within groups of people --- women, others along the sexual continuum --- which led to the notion of “identitarianism” wherein a kind of tribal identity is not only recognized but encouraged. Benoist proceeded to build tribal identity on the Radical Right, built on the frame. Speaking as a MetaEcon here, Benoist claimed it was essential to separate out into groups with narrow shared other-interest, narrow the identity on the Right, rather than search for consensus across said interests, and simply not even try at building a common shared other-interest. It was all about finding and making claim to what permanently separates one political tribe from the other: No empathy-with the other here.
Seeking fundamental and permanent differences, Benoist has worked to champion (Rose 2020, p. 90)
… characteristically European attitudes and values … found in the pre-Christian heritage of the West … the Indo-Europeans … claimed these “first Europeans” as a cultural (and not simply linguistic) community that formed the common origin of the continent’s life. ‘We want to rekindle the old spirit of European cultures…’ to seed public discussion with (said) controversial ideas and thinkers, especially those espousing inegalitarian or anti-Christian points of view… announced that his values were illiberal, relativist, and pagan, and that he had no special reverence for Christianity, the nation-state, or capitalism.
The Radical Right was to go back to said pre-Christian framing. Christianity was too egalitarian, too open minded, not willing to see the reality of inherent inequality. Intriguingly, Benoist regards (Rose 2022, p. 90) “diversity and inequalities” to be a good, and (Christianity and any other frame of ) “progressive homogenization” to be an evil. So, as a MetaEcon here, being in empathy-with the other on the path to finding common ground, a widely shared other-interest representing sufficient reason that everyone can go along with, well, to Benoist said process and effort is in effect evil?
Benoist later turned to nominalism, which is used to focus attention on defending tradition. Especially important to Benoist, is the defense of such things as excellence, heroism, and honor (Rose 2022, p. 91). It is all about universal values that bind people within a group --- within a tribal identity --- together: It is all about highlighting differences, and not seeking common ground. Any kind of pluralism is to be denied any place.
So, Benoist sees the overriding issue on the Spaceship, especially in looking back through European culture to present day Western culture, as a competition between Christian monotheism and Paganism. The latter never allowed that a person could somehow move beyond and transcend the tribe: Identity-with said tribe would always be in the background of choice by a person, the person forever intertwined with the tribe. And, on Paganism more specifically (Rose 2022, pp. 92-93):
“Far from desacralizing the world … paganism sacralizes it in the literal sense of the word; it regards the world as sacred.”… the divine does not transcend the world … (seeing) paganism as an attitude about the terrestrial sources of human value, and hence about the nature of political community. Paganism roots all value—all meaning, inspiration, and fulfillment—in our communion with the natural and social worlds. It places human beings on a continuum with nature and the divine, seeing all existence as alive with the sacred. Paganism is therefore a humanism. It recognizes human beings, in their social nature, as the source of the gods, who “exist” as models that we should strive to equal.
It is likely Benoist would find Dual Interest Theory in Metaeconomics useful in providing analytical substance to the constructs offered, in that said theory has a placeholder for the identity, perhaps an old Pagan-based tradition being one option, represented in a shared other-interest. Dual Interest Theory also frames both economy & community as embedded within the Spaceship Earth ecosystem, people traveling with all other living creatures, together on said Spaceship. A MetaEcon sees Humans as the people traveling on said Spaceship, in community with one another, and the ecosystem that is the Spaceship. In some sense, a MetaEcon would also see the conflict between the Christian monotheism frame of a divinity driving the Spaceship vs the Pagan frame of the “gods” being within the nature of said Spaceship. Empirical questions.
And, as a MetaEcon would argue it, Dual Interest Theory in Metaeconomics places no particular favor, a priori, on any particular point on the Radical Left to Radical Right political spectrum, just like it does not favor some particular point on the Christian (insert your favored Religion) to Pagan spectrum. In contrast to Single Interest Theory in Metaeconomics --- which always favors a person maximizing self-interest with minimal to no community or government influence (and, absolutely no outside control) --- operating in effect as an ideology. Rather, a MetaEcon argues for a process characterized by volitional pragmatism in the search for sufficient reason to select a best point on both spectrums to resolve the issue at hand: It is rests in data and empirical science, not ideology, not theology, not philosophy, other than that of pragmatism: Do what works best, which also includes empathy-based ethics.
So, it is easy science, for a MetaEcon, to make analytical sense of Benoist claims. For example, regarding a main difference between Christianism and Paganism, after Rose (2022, p. 93), Benoist claims:
…that Christianity … deforms our natural impulses and weakens our social relationships. We naturally respect and trust those like us, and avoid and distrust those who seem alien. We naturally admire beauty, health, and excellence, and pity the weak and ugly. But where paganism consecrates our vital instincts, seeing them as the healthy basis of social life, Christianity aims to reform them… (seeing the potential for acknowledging and cultivating) the shared humanity … the common good of all people, regardless of their condition or background.
To a MetaEcon, Benoist is simply making clear that the content of the shared other-interest may represent deeper tendencies and instincts (consecrated in Paganism) that are not easily tempered by being in empathy-with (as Christianity claims) the other. A MetaEcon would point to the potential, the capacity, for going into empathy-with the other, in order to temper the more primal tendencies that Paganism seems to recognize as intransigent, traditional without ever changing frame. The Originalism in Right Wing law, as a case in point, although claimed to be Christian (which is really about empathy-with, not tradition) sourced, seems more like Paganism in practice (recent SCOTUS ruling on Roe v Wade coming to mind). Empirical questions, indeed.
A MetaEcon can also makes sense of the Benoist claims about how supposedly the jointness of liberalism & democracy is really better characterized as liberalism VS democracy. Why? Well, liberalism is about being a self-interest seeking consumer, even thinking of tax T as just another price P paid to buy the public good. Single Interest Theory in Microeconomics describes, and Public Choice Theory expands on the notion that it is all about consumers trading in commodities all turned in to what the good will do for me, personally, as in a private good. The frame has been turned to it being about consumer VS citizen, which is the essence of the Benoist claim. The notion of a citizen, essential to a democracy, who joins with others to pay tax T to provide for the shared public good is lost. So, as a MetaEcon would make clear, it really is about recognizing the jointness in consumer & citizen, price P & tax T, market & government rather than about a “VS” in each case. It is likely Benoist would agree.
Yet, a MetaEcon would likely have to beg to differ with Benoist on the following claim (Rose 2022, pp. 95-96)
In ancient democracy, to be a citizen was not to be an individual with rights and private interests of one’s own. Nor did it presume membership in humanity as such. To be a citizen was to be a member of a particular people, with a defined territory and shared lineage, who exercise sovereignty over their political life. “Demos and ethnos coincide,” he explained, and where there is no distinct “people,” there can be no democracy.
That is, a MetaEcon would agree about the need to recognize differences, and to respect same, as in perhaps having 4-6 political parties (rather than only 2 parties in the US, who have chosen to operate without empathy-with each other), each with a tribal kind of shared other-interest represented in same. Where a MetaEcon would differ is on the role of mindful empathy-with framing going across said party, crossing tribal lines to find common ground, as in a shared other-interest that all 4-6 parties could identify with. Empathy-with the other tribe is essential in order to solve common problems, in the common (public) good sense of it all, especially in the frame of all people being jointly traveling, together, on the same Spaceship.
So, a MetaEcon can go along with Benoist to some extent, as in the notion (Rose 2022, pp. 96-97):
Human beings do not exist, even in their most private aspects, as mere individuals, and it is a liberal illusion to imagine they do. They exist in “symbiosis” with their surrounding communities; with families that share an ancestral legacy; with nations that bestow civic membership; with spiritual and moral traditions that form character; and with cultures that initiate them into a pattern of life. … liberalism is the ideological core of all Western societies, informing all its institutions and practices … (with the) emphasis on individualism, which transfers sovereignty from the united “folk” to the autonomous individual. Liberal thinkers have characterized human nature in different ways, but Benoist claims they all agree the individual is the fundamental basis of political society. As an ideology, liberalism therefore places the individual before the group, and values personal freedom over social solidarity. (and on p. 100) “Holism” … emphasizes that each human life is embedded in a social and cultural world, and that our “situatedness,” far from being an impediment to self-realization, is what makes it possible.
Said symbiosis is represented in the shared other-interest construct in Dual Interest Theory, fully acknowledged by a MetaEcon as to the key role it likely plays. And, yes, classical liberalism has downplayed said key role (see Deneen 2018; Bromley 2019), as in the notion of minimizing the role of the community by minimizing the government --- downplaying the role of the underlying institution at play --- which represents same. Also, while a MetaEcon sees the expression of ego-based self-interest as primal (as liberalism celebrates and facilitates), it also sees the need to recognize the empathy-based social solidarity which must temper the self-interest. The empirical question is one of whether said solidarity is to be freely considered as an influencing factor, as in the notion of homonomy, or if said solidarity is to be imposed from the outside, as in heteronomy (with authoritarian overtones to said heteronomy). And, whatever the source (albeit matters how we get there), the holism of the shared other-interest is essential to economic efficiency, peace (minimal political chaos), and, yes, happiness. As a MetaEcon would say it, the Me needs a We to Be, but without a Me there is no We: It is about a joint and nonseparable I & We, each essential to the other. Benoist would likely agree.
But, then again, perhaps not: Benoist sees controversy and conflict among various “We” frames as essential, being critical of (classical) liberalism which (Rose 2022, p. 103) “.. continues an evangelical mission to build a global world in which there is no ‘they’ and only a ‘we’…” So, while seeing the essential role of the “We” Benoist does not believe in only one “We”… (instead seeing merit in the clash of Me/Us vs They/Them)… and as a result is “vehemently anti-American… (as it is) a land without a people (Rose 2022, p. 103).” A MetaEcon would quickly point out the empirical question implicit in said claim, and, look to the possibility there is room for common ground, common (public) good cutting across diverse differences represented in narrower shared other-interest, while still preserving said many and diverse differences. It seems Benoist may agree on said front, in that differences are to be respected on all fronts, including racial, which may be inherent to the genetics of the race. And, the extent such differences can and need to be squared, to a MetaEcon, and perhaps not enough for Benoist, is an empirical question.
The Nationalist: Samuel Francis (1947-2005)
Francis was an American columnist and writer, coming from a background which included a PhD in British history and working with and for conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation. Francis came to be a major critic of the framing being used in said mainstream conservative organizations, and among mainstream conservatives.
Francis became a nationalist and populist, going after “the elites” on both the Left and Right on the political spectrum. It was about moving away from globalization, including moving away from free trade and from spreading market neoliberalism across the Spaceship. It was about recognizing how American labor had been left behind, and politicians were not listening to said concerns. It was about returning to some perhaps fantastical, imagined, and mystical time when the core of American thinking put America first. It was about traditional American culture, if there ever was such a thing.
Francis also saw politics as about taking power. As Rose (2022, p. 115) says it, Francis:
…described political life as an unending contest for power, emphasizing the human appetite for it as our overriding social passion. It saw politics not as a sphere where human beings could order their common life through rational deliberation, but as an arena where they invariably seek to dominate each other or to escape domination by others. … (Francis also) accepted the materialism and secularism of much modern thinking, and rejected the primacy of metaphysics and theology.
Sounds familiar (thinking here of the 2016 and 2020 US elections, with 2-parties at war), Right, except for the rejection in effect of any primary role for religion?
Francis became sympathetic with a view that saw (Rose 2022, p. 119) a Spaceship composed of
… managerial mega-states, ruled by a new elite on the basis of its claims to technological and administrative expertise. (It would lead to, p. 120) Government, business, education, unions, churches, media, and entertainment were all innovated by (said) new social pattern. Organizations formerly rooted in local relationships, family ties, and regional cultures became exponentially larger, more impersonal, and more standardized. (Said managerial power represented in the elites in power --- and politics was about different elites vying for power --- would lead to, p. 122) a leveling process of “homogenization.” (ensuring) that consumers had the same tastes, businesses operated in the same markets, students received the same training, and citizens held the same values.
And, what is the outcome, and why is it a problem to Francis? Well, it takes away from tradition, as Rose (2022, p. 122) says it, Francis claimed the approach subverts traditional ways of American life:
…elites .. challenge, discredit, and erode the moral, intellectual, and institutional fabric of traditional society… a coordinated project of ongoing cultural dispossession. Its long march through American life … will eventually target every symbol and institution of an older social order. National loyalty, traditional moral codes, the heroes and founders of American culture—in time, all will be subjected to an accelerating campaign of ideological revision waged through legislation and media.
So, it now makes sense with regard to the Right being in an open war focused on “owning the Libs” and the Left pointing to “the deplorables” --- really, the Middle American Radicals (MARs), as Francis would come to identify same --- with the elites on Right reacting as though what the elites on the Right have caused was somehow good (like “deplorables” protesting against being left behind, often by the elites on the Right who argued for free trade, globalization, and did a great deal of outsourcing to reduce labor costs in order to raise stock prices). Culture wars come to mind, too, as elites on both sides go at it. Francis believed politics was about which elites would be driving the change, and, did not like what was happening on either side of the political spectrum, but especially going after elite Right of isle conservatives.
To Francis, the Middle American Radicals did not (and still really still do not, albeit some Radical Right politicians claim so) have a political home. As Rose (2022, p. 124) characterizes it, Francis saw the mixed frames within, as a MetaEcon would say it, the shared other-interest which
…defended entitlements and union membership, and were deeply skeptical of large corporations and free trade. On the other hand, they opposed welfare and school busing, and held conservative views on social issues, especially those involving race. … (even though, p. 125) many rely on government help in the form of benefits or loans… (and form) the remaining core of a fractured American nation.
With the elite on the Left into social justice and the elite on the Right into large corporations driving up stock prices, most easily done by not paying reasonable wages but also cutting taxes (the easiest way to drive up stock prices for elite owners on both Left and Right), it is small wonder the US political economy is moving toward authoritarianism. The authoritarian always arises out of said milieu and promises to fix everything, always in a giant con, like a carnival barker selling snake oil.
As Rose (2022, pp. 124-125) points out, and Francis had highlighted it:
MARs feel they are members of an exploited class—excluded from real political representation, harmed by conventional tax and trade policies, victimized by crime and social deviance, and denigrated by popular culture and elite institutions. Their sense of grievance points both upward and downward. They believe they are neglected, even preyed upon, by a leadership class who simultaneously favor the rich and the poor over the interests of the middle class.
So, there it is: Francis has a point, which is also made clear in Lynne (2020). The contention needs to be considered as a set of hypotheses subjected to testing with a frame of science & ethics, looking for the facts (as to what is driving said realities, what the MARs are experiencing) & working to find that which the MARs and people in leadership can go along with --- empathy-based ethics. It is about finding the empirical grounds for fixing the problems, which will likely involve a complex combination of Right & Left ideas and approaches, with the overall goal of building a Humane Capitalism with a highly participatory (and thus Humane) Democracy. It will not likely be built on Autocracy & Oligarchy --- some also wanting to introduce controlling Religion, too --- which seems to be favored by the Radical Right, without any substantive empirical support for it (Little empirical support exists for either the Radical Left or Radical Right; it is about finding good balance. See Lynne 2020, and the other Blogs on this Website, for more detail).
Moving Beyond the Radical Right (and Radical Left) to Salvage Classical Liberalism
It must first be clear as to what is meant by Classical Liberalism, such that it can be known just what is to be salvaged. As Fukuyama (2022, pp. vii-viii) says:
Classical liberalism is a big tent that encompasses a range of political views that nonetheless agree on the foundational importance of equal individual rights, law, and freedom (and can be fixed only by better recognizing the community as reflected in representative government)
Lakoff (2006, p. 151) also points to the focus on the individual, on the person while taking away from the recognition of said person embedded within community, as in person & community, pointing to the
…the classical liberal myth of the autonomous individual entering into social contracts with other autonomous individuals doesn’t make much sense. Individuals are not and never were autonomous.
Lakoff (2019, p. 79, 146) sees the Left … especially the Radical Left … as more likely to bring community back into play through empathy-with (a Christian frame), through such things as:
raising the minimum wage, massive programs for rebuilding infrastructure, better safety nets, early childhood education and better education in general, better health care, and so on. These would help ease the pain on the nonwealthy— … classical liberals need to acknowledge the need for government, and get past the neoliberal era in which the state was demonized as an inevitable enemy of economic growth and individual freedom.
Such things do not fit on the Radical Right --- Government is not to be used for empathy-with kind of interaction with people --- although it can be used to control free choice, authoritarians in charge. An example: The Radical Right is making it criminal to abort a fertilized egg even though it is clearly not an infant, so violating both science & ethics in favor of tradition going back centuries (like back to pre-1500s tradition in the case of the recent SCOTUS ruling on Roe v. Wade).
The Catholics writing about the failures of Classical Liberalism, represented in political scientist Deneen (2018), and by Hirschfeld (2018) and Rose (2022), all with advanced understanding of theology, would seemingly agree on the matter of empathy-based identity with Christian community. The latter would include matters as Lakoff (2019) points to as primarily supported on the Political Left, albeit it is likely the spectrum of Right to Left politics are quite different among said Catholics. It does seem, though, that all three want to bring Christianity to the fore in addressing the claim that the person is embedded within a Christian community, which seemingly is more Left (again, after Lakoff 2006, 2019) than Right, and, thus, may be why the Radical Right is rejecting same. The Radical Right, as Rose (2021/2022) documents, goes back to more Pagan framing when religion is considered at all, the problems in Classical Liberalism then blamed on moving away from Paganism (which asserted far more heteronomous control over each person) to Christianity (which favors homonomy, freely chosen connection with the community).
Rose (2021/2022), after spending most of the book pointing out and detailing the anti-Christian, anti-individualism frame by the Radical Right claim based largely in the tradition of “blood and soil” for going Post-Liberalism, at the end of the book returns to the Christian frame. Rose (2021/2022) claims the latter needs to be part of the substance of what underlies Classical Liberalism principles, and underlies US Politics, and, needs to be understood for the essential role so played. The Rose (2021/2022) claim is that Christian philosophy, theology, and religion has been a substantive influence on the culture and institutions (especially the empathy-based ethical system embedded in the shared other-interest), and related politics, in what came to be represented in Classical Liberalism, especially as a result of the Reformation starting in the early-1500s. And, said influence needs to continue.
And, while Dual Interest Theory in Metaeconomics is non-ideological, it is also non-theological, and can help make sense of the claims. It is based in facts (scientific-method based sources) & ethics (recognizing religion, as well as many other sources, can play a role in evolving same). So, a MetaEcon is open to considering all forms of religious philosophy and theology as represented in affecting the content of the shared other-interest. Yet, it is especially easy to bring Christian framing into said consideration as the shared other-interest is considered to evolve out of being in empathy-with the other, on the way to finding sufficient reason to buy-in to the evolved (empathy-based) ethical system that works for the other, that works for everyone. The Other Virtues (drawn from McCloskey 2006; Hirschfeld 2018), beyond just Prudence, come to mind, including Temperence, Justice, and Courage, as well as the Christian values of Faith, Hope, and Love (Empathy-with).
The Christian Question
The play on words alludes to the early notion of The Jewish Question. Using the frame of a MetaEcon to make sense of it, the materialism of Jewish Culture, in effect, the arrogance of self-love (the chosen people and all) represented in ego-based self-interest which is a key part of said culture, has been especially criticized (ironically, as many on the Right are all about maximizing and holding onto --- don’t pay taxes --- wealth in a material world) by the Radical Right, as in being anti-Semitic (culture). As a MetaEcon, one has to also then point out the irony of the Radical Right being critical of the need to temper said self-interest with the empathy-based shared other-interest with all people, which is to be anti-Christian (culture). So, being both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian at the same time: What is left, or is that right?
Rose (2021/2022) captures the entire story of the anti-Christian Radical Right under the umbrella of the “alternative right,” or, simply, the alt-right. Said alt-right especially claims that the social justice movement on the Left, which has worked to be inclusive, less discriminatory on gender (including seeing the gender continuum to include LGBTQ frames) and racial fronts, well, that it works to discriminate against whites, especially white males. The alt-right argues it is only fair to organize around a shared white identity.
The reality might be far more nuanced. As Rose (2021/2022) says it, quoting several different alt-right thinkers:
… (alt-right) leaders are not only openly illiberal and racialist; they are also anti-Christian, flaunting their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it… (denying) that “Christianity constitutes a viable vehicle for the perpetuation of the European peoples and their culture.” … that “Christianity provides an identity that is above or before racial and ethnic identity.” … that contemporary Christianity offers encouragement to an “anti-white revolution.” … that “Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood. It is the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”
So, it is said kind of thinking which supports the anti-Christian notion in the Radical Right, with most in the alt-Right being not only anti-Christian but atheist.
Such framing connects with that of the five philosophers, thinkers Rose (2021/2022, p. 139, 140-141, 142) highlights in the book:
Spengler: ...that Western culture … has slowly succumbed to its egalitarianism.
Evola: … a postliberal order (is essential) that will restore the archaic basis of social life.
Yockey: … that critical rationality has been smuggled into the soul of American culture by biblical religion.
Benoist: … that Christian monotheism alienates believers from nature and history.
Francis: …(need to) build a political movement that dispenses with the false consolations of faith.
Overall: … the radical right critique Christianity for nurturing individual freedom, not suppressing it; for undermining human inequalities, not upholding them; for being rationalistic, not irrational; for its openness, not its exclusivity; for being apolitical, not political; and for living up to its ideals, not betraying them. What is shocking about these formulations is that they invert the conventional terms of intellectual discussion... (accusing) Christianity of being the cause of modern values it is often blamed for impeding or rejecting… (with the Radical Right rejecting the Christian frame that sees) human beings as individuals, equal in dignity and worth, who are to recognize all men as neighbors… (sees) history culminating in a universal community, uniting people from every nation and land.
So, on par with The Jewish Question, the Radical Right is raising The Christian Question, while rejecting both frames.
Rose (2021/2022) sees The Christian Question as:
Christianity denied what antiquity had serenely assumed: that the strong are destined to rule the weak, that we have no obligations to strangers, and that our identities are constituted by our social status. While this revolution is widely seen as moral progress, the radical right argues that it admits another interpretation, however oblivious we are to it. Nietzsche famously lamented that Christianity made us tender and empathetic, and shifted the burden of proof against the aristocratic sentiment that tolerates cruelties and inequities. In doing so, it burdened us with bad consciences, wounding our self-love and pride. (and a less elitist, more humane claim is) that Christian values, either openly or in secular disguise, uproot human beings from tight social bonds,
Well, intriguing contentions by the Radical Right, which need (because of lacking substantive) empirical support. Said claims are also directly against the frame of the most famous economist, moral philosopher Adam Smith (1776/1790, 1758/1789), who was writing the two treatises during the time after the Reformation and during the heart of the Enlightenment period, and contributing directly to the Principles of Classical Liberalism. Said principles would form the economic foundation, in effect, the underlying principles of modern capitalism: Smith made it clear that it was indeed essential that the arrogance of self-love (self-interest) be tempered by the empathy (the sentiments) based ethical system reflecting that which the other could go along with.
A MetaEcon captures the Smith mindset in the notion of Dual Interest: Said frame seems quite consistent with finding good balance in the self & other- interest, and, arguably on the religious front, finding good balance in Jewish & Christian, material & shared interest, person & community, ego & empathy, and, writ large, good balance in a joint and nonseparable market & government. It seems, too, it reflects the essential need for seeing jointness in Right & Left politics, while being careful to avoid the extremes of the Radical ends.
Rose (2021/2022) speculates about what a post-Christian system would hold, to a MetaEcon, in the new post-Christian shared other-interest. It will have a number of features (Rose 2021/2022, pp. 146, 147, ):
…will speak a distinct ideological language … will display little theoretical elegance … will reject the polished tones of traditional conservatism. … will not speak reverently of free markets, individualism, or constitutionalism… will not genuflect to the natural law or the moral pieties of the “Judeo-Christian” tradition… what is prosperity without a patrimony, and freedom without a home… will … give defiant expression to primordial passions, once disciplined by religion, that liberalism tried to repress—about preserving cultural differences, punishing enemies, and deposing disloyal elites… will represent an attempt to undo the Christian revolution by severing the connection between Western culture and transcendence (i.e. connecting with a divinity which can never be fully understood) ...would claim to have recovered cultural traditions and national symbols, boasting to have restored a patrimony to those it had been wrongly denied … appeals to diversity, difference, and victimhood would … blunt charges that it espoused supremacist ideas… might even ally with an ecological left, creating a brown-green coalition that aimed to protect what the alt-right calls “human biodiversity.”
Rose (2021/2022, pp. 147) cautions, however, that a post-Christian frame could be hiding under a kind of smoke and mirrors frame, cloaking it in Christianity, such as
…claiming a religious mantle for its defense of ethnic or cultural identity … that an individual is Christian in virtue of being born into a particular ethnicity or nation; the idea that a people is innately Christian in virtue of its history or culture … that Christianity is an inheritance a people possesses as its own, rather than a gift they share with others… that a Christian community is closed to those outside its ethno-cultural boundaries … (said community) giving identity
So, to Rose (2021/2022, p. 148), as Christian theologian: … (said) theology must be prepared to confront a post-Christian right with the same vigor that it has challenged the secular left. To a MetaEcon, such a frame of reference points to empirical examination of the efficacy of Christian (insert favored Religion) framing in forming the best shared other-interest.
One of the most difficult challenges will be that of emigration and immigration, which is already showing itself on the Spaceship-level scene, as exacerbated by the damage being done to the ecosystem and atmosphere with excessive greenhouse gas releases driving climate change. Political (and religious) turmoil over immigration is easily predicted. And, as Rose (2021/2022, p. 149, 150) clarifies, it will put extra pressure on Christian-claims that it is universal, across all people on the Spaceship:
Christians are indistinguishable from (the) other either by nationality, language or customs … every foreign country is their homeland, and every homeland is foreign… not simply a religion of individual faith .. (it is, in effect) a race … of the saved (including the people of the Jewish Culture, and, every other race, creed, and religion).
The anti-Christian Radical Right, and, we might suppose the secular Left, will not be happy. Christianity holds out the proposition that everyone on the Spaceship is potentially of the same (saved) race, going back in history to the start, through the present, and forever into the future.
Rose (2021/2022, pp. 154-155) rounds it out as:
… (it) has become clear that expanding our freedom of choice has left many people alone and unhappy, nostalgic for the structured communities and thick identities that former generations possessed. Liberalism was right to affirm that we are capable of self-governance, an ideal it inherited from classical and Christian thought. But it was wrong to see our rootedness in particular communities and traditions as obstacles to human freedom, rather than as natural conditions for its attainment. For it is the essence of our creaturely condition, as well as human happiness, that we learn to order these bonds to real human goods, turning the passions that weave the fabric of life into the virtues that clothe it with dignity. Our loyalties to a nation, culture, or people can, of course, become dangerous when severed from truths that transcend them.
MetaEcon here: Metaeconomics works to transcend Microeconomics, by bringing consideration of the shared other-interest to consideration in tempering the self-interest. It seems Rose (2021/2022) sees it the same way, albeit the transcendence to which is being referred by said theologian is with divinity, the monotheist God in the frame being used. Metaeconomics does not require any belief in a divinity to transcend the individual expression of self-interest by a person as Classical Liberalism encourages. It does, however, point to an empathy-based consideration of what the other can go along with, no matter who the other is, with anyone on the Spaceship (actually all life on the Spaceship) part of the shared consideration.
The question of Western culture --- especially old traditions prior to the Enlightenment, the latter resulting in the set of Classical Principles underlying Classical Liberalism --- somehow being the best is, to a MetaEcon, an empirical question. And, while politics is often seen as fundamentally a power-play between and among leadership elites, the best political economy is one with the best culture (institutions) undergirding, giving context to, the economy. And, it seems the most coherent frame for considering the question comes from work by, again, see Bromley (2006, and reviews by Lynne 2007, 2009): It is about a volitional pragmatism based process focused on choosing and evolving the best culture, best institution (as an InstiEcon like Bromley sees it), and, said choice must be based on sufficient reason. And, as a Metaecon makes clear, said sufficient reason must rest on facts (scientific-method sourced) & ethics (that which reasoned people and a reasoned God if you believe in God --- see the God is a MetaEcon Blog --- can go along with).
The analytics are suggested in Figures 1 and 2. The Radical Right philosophy wants to greatly constrain the freedom to choose possibilities on path 0G, controlling same with heteronomous (outside) control more akin to that on some path 0M. It is argued Pagan culture, going back to the start of evolution, at least back to 8 BC, is somehow superior, likely giving some trajectory for the typical person on some path 0Z very close to path 0M. It is an authoritarian system, with a fascist twist, favoring only a small group who buy into Western culture as supreme, and, is to be implemented by whatever means to take control. It is not likely it would ever produce enough progress, as tradition rules.
Radical Right philosophy also makes claim that Jewish Culture is too ego-based self-interest driven on a path of materialism, which arises on some path 0Z much closer to path 0G. As with the Pagan Tradition path 0Z being too close to path 0M, the Jewish Culture path 0Z is too close to path 0G, and would also stifle progress because the path 0Z would be too inclusive of only the people buying into Jewish Culture: It may well be a major reason for the way Jewish people were subjected to genocide during the 1930s-1940s in Europe, an absolutely insane and inhumane treatment, and totally unacceptable way of engaging The Jewish (Culture) Problem. Wealthy Jewish people were quite inclusive, and kept the other-outside of the path 0Z.
Radical Right philosophy also makes claim that Christian Culture is too focused on an empathy-based other-interest, an interest shared widely with anyone joining into Christian philosophy, theology, religion, and belief. Christians even have the proposition of being in one with the body of Christ, and, some day everyone will rise again, including all ancestors, such that every Traveler on the Spaceship (Earth) since the start of time is in some sense part of the same shared other (with Christ, and everyone else)-interest. So, Radical Right philosophy claims, said kind of freely chosen participation with Christ, well, it also gives far too much freedom by each person to choose how to live a life, including economic choice. Yet, while it is not likely to be as material a life as encouraged by Jewish Culture, it would likely lead to some path 0Z very near to the Jewish Culture path 0Z, and a great distance from the Pagan (heavy tradition loaded) path 0M. We might even find a Judeo-Christian (or, perhaps a Western-Eastern culture) based path 0Z that integrates the two, which would also likely be rejected by the Pagan based Radical Right.
And, how does said path 0Z evolve? Well, it evolves in the value V space of Figure 2. The Radical Right has a very definite take --- the authoritarian elite know best --- on the best shared other-interest, the best location in said space, which is then imposed on people in the now greatly limited choice space of Figure 1. Unfortunately, it tends to be the shared other-interest among the authoritarian elite in power, so it takes on a fascist flavor, like it did in Europe in the 1930s, and leading to WWII.
Democracy cannot be supported by the Radical Right because it gives too much freedom for individual people to choose, and, instead, said people must be bound and controlled by tradition. It is like taking people back to the early-1500s at best (like the SCOTUS ruling on abortion), and, even 8 BC is better. It is demonstrated regularly on the Fox News Network, which has become the propaganda arm of the Radical Right. It is demonstrated in favoring old Russia and supporting the Authoritarian & Oligarchism & Religionism of Macho (Strict Father) Putin as it relates to invading Ukraine which is trying to become new Western culture in framing. The Radical Right claim it is said core traditions of old Europe represented in old Russia that are somehow superior to Christian influenced Western philosophy and principles, so said invasion is justified. Such claims need emprical testing.
Think of the framework for asking the empirical question as follows (using Dual Interest Theory);
· Someone living in a Western culture would be able to pursue:
Own-interestW = f(self&otherW) where the otherW represents the content of the shared other-interest representing Western culture
· Someone living in an Eastern culture would be able to pursue:
Own-interestE = f(self&otherE) where the otherE represents the content of the shared other-interest representing Eastern culture
· So, how find economic efficiency, political (economic) peace, and happiness across the WE cultures (which the Radical Right claims is impossible, but Dual Interest Theory sees as an empirical question and real possibility)? Said Traveler on the Spaceship would be able to pursue an own-interest like:
o Own-interestW = f(self&otherW&otherWE)
o Own-interestE = f(self&otherE&otherWE)
o Notice how each person whether under a mainly W culture or under a mainly E culture would now find some overlap as represented in the common ground of a WE culture.
Ultimately, the empirical question is not only about the question of the best culture, as in Western culture or Eastern culture, but also looking for common good, the common ground, the WEculture, that which all Travelers on the Spaceship can go along with.
US Political and Political Economy Realities
Bringing it all back to speaking directly to the best political economy in the US for the present time: To a MetaEcon, it is the case that neither the current Republican nor the current Democrat parties in the US adequately represent the concerns of the MARs, nor of the Radical Left or Radical Right. In fact, something more akin to the proposal by Drutman (2020), building the US political party system with 4-6 parties, seems a promising if not the only solution. With such a system, empathy-with the other philosophical, ideological, and religion-framed views would serve to reduce the political (economic) conflict. A 4-6 party system would serve the process focused on finding sufficient reason on which to improve Classical Liberalism rather than replace it. At least it seems so, and clearly it is an empirical question that needs more attention. An empathy-with political party system of 4-6 parties is better assured of finding the best path 0Z, and the best value V. True Christianity is an empathy-with frame, so it could also play a substantive role, but religion is not necessary, per se, to find the best path 0Z.
Empirical testing will likely suggest it is ill-advised to move to a post-Liberalism frame using only Radical Right philosophies and claims. It would be equally misplaced to used Radical Left philosophies and claims, unless empirically supported, even though said claims will likely be much closer to Christian claims. The analytical system of Figures 1 and 2 can help make sense, by serving to guide the questions asked.
And, a MetaEcon would also suggest: It has become clear that some modification to the Classical Principles that have evolved and operated since the early-1500s is in order. Fukuyama (2022) has, for example, advised that the Neoliberal claims driving such things as free trade in not-tempered (minimal to no regulation) markets needs to be changed. Said claims work to neutralize and other minimize government, which is not the way to achieve essential balance in market & government, seeing the reality that each is essential to the other. The Neoliberal claim that government can in effect do no good, so it must be minimized, likely will not stand empirical test. It may also be that turning social justice into a frame around identity groups also needs reconsideration, while still applying time honored Classical Principles about being in empathy-with all groups. Overall, moving to a better Liberalism, a post-Liberalism that works for everyone, can be a good thing if based in facts (science-sourced) & ethics, both empirical in the sense of representing reality, and built into the foundation undergirding the move.
Bromley, Daniel W. Possessive Individualism: A Crisis of Capitalism. Kindle ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.